According to Nancy Collop, MD, director of the Emory Sleep Center in Atlanta and president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, most of us need about seven or eight hours of sleep each night. Not getting enough of those precious ZZZ’s will not only leave us feeling sluggish and reaching for caffeine or other stimulants during the day, but can lead to health issues down the road.
If getting better sleep is one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2017, here are some easy tips to help you and your family fall asleep easier and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face your day:
- Your Bedroom – A Sanctuary for Sleep
Keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet is a winning combination for setting the tone for a good night’s sleep. Using dark shades or curtains on your windows is an easy way to keep light out. To keep noise to a minimum, experts suggest using sound machines, running a fan, or even wearing earplugs to help diffuse outside noises that can come from traffic and neighbors (among other distractions). Studies show that most people sleep better when the temperature in their bedrooms is on the cooler side (around 65 degrees). A cooler room can aid in better quality sleep.
- Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Jet lag isn’t just for travelers. Those of us not getting adequate sleep can feel like we just travelled around the world. Setting a schedule where we go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day can keep our bodies in sync (or circadian rhythm). This natural sleep/wake cycle is critical to maintaining good sleep habits and for being able to wake up feeling energized.
- Power Down Electronics
Artificial light emitted from TVs, laptops and smartphone screens can play a major role in suppressing melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate sleep. Research suggests powering down your electronics at least one hour before bedtime. Listening to music or an audio book are great alternatives and can help you relax for a peaceful slumber.
- Skip the Nightcap, Caffeine and Nicotine
Research suggests the avoidance of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before bedtime can greatly increase your chances of getting a restful sleep. Alcohol has been known to disrupt sleep patterns and may cause nightmares and sudden awakenings.
- Make Bedtime a Family Affair
School-age children require more sleep than adults. A study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) revealed that only 20% of adolescents are getting the recommended nine hours of sleep.
NSF suggest the following sleep guidelines for children:
Ages 3 to 5 – 11 to 13 hours
Ages 5 to 10 – 10 to 11 hours
Ages 10 to 17 – 8.5 to 9.5 hours
Ages 18 and over – 7 to 9 hours
Following bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, brushing teeth and story time are great ways of keeping children on a routine and maintaining a consistent nighttime regime.
- Clear Your Mind – Don’t Count on Counting Sheep
Most of us would agree that our minds act like tape recorders at the end of the day, playing back the day’s events and clogging our minds with stresses, “to-do” lists and general worries. Experts agree it’s best to get out of bed if you’re having a difficult time falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night. It can be more stressful flipping around in your bed trying to fall back to sleep. One good tip is to write down everything that’s on your mind or anything that is pressing for the next day. Getting it all out of your head and down on paper is a great way to clear your mind and organize your thoughts.
We hope you’ve found these tips for a better night’s sleep helpful. For more information on Granite Transformations, or to schedule a free in-home consultation, please visit us at www.granitetransformations.com.